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Minutes of the Board of Trustees – November 2012

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 29 November 2012


Mark Getty (Chairman)
Lance Batchelor
Gautam Dalal
Professor David Ekserdjian 
Lady Heseltine 
Michael Hintze 
Professor Anya Hurlbert
Patricia Lankester 
John Nelson 
Hannah Rothschild
Charles Sebag-Montefiore
John Singer
Caroline Thomson


Professor Dexter Dalwood

In attendance

Dr Nicholas Penny (Director) 
Dr Susan Foister (Deputy Director) save for item 5
Kate Howe (Secretary to the Board)     
Larry Keith (Director of Conservation) items 1, 2 and 7
Caroline Campbell (Curator of Italian Paintings before 1500) items 1 and 2
Christopher Riopelle (Curator of post 1800 Paintings) item 7
Jill Preston (Head of Communications) item 8
Cathy Putz (Exhibitions Curator) item 9
Alexis Chapman (Interim Head of Finance) items 10 and 11

Declarations of interest

1. No interests were declared.

Loans out

2. The Loans out paper was presented by the Curator of Italian Painting before 1500 whom the Chairman welcomed to her first meeting of the Board in her capacity as Curator responsible for loans from the Collection. Two addenda to the Loans Out paper were tabled. The Board approved all proposed loans from the Collection.

Minutes of 27 September and 29 October and matters arising

3. The Minutes of 27 September and 29 October were approved and the Chairman was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting.

Matters arising: the Chairman told the Board that he had asked Caroline Thomson to take on the role of Deputy Chairman of the Board, to deputise for him when necessary in his absence. The Board endorsed this decision.

The Chairman reported that the Prime Minister had approved the re-appointment of Hannah Rothschild and Gautam Dalal as Trustees of the Gallery, each for a second term of 4 years, from March 2013.

Director's report, events and visitor numbers

4. The Board noted the Director’s written report. The Director drew attention to the inclusion of information about National Programmes, included in response to a recent request from the Board.

He reported on a recent meeting between himself, the Chairman, the Director and Chairman of Tate and Patricia Lankester.

Information has been excluded under s41 FOI 2000 

Update on staffing

5. Information has been excluded under s 36 FOI 2000.

The Board approved the proposed revised management structure and the proposed Job description for the Director of Operations and Finance.

Acquisitions Strategy and Acquisition and Disposal Policy

6. The Deputy Director presented the proposed revised Acquisitions strategy to the Board. She pointed out that the strategy started by re-affirming the principal aims of the Gallery’s existing Acquisitions Strategy, which were to obtain masterpieces of outstanding quality; to develop  the Gallery’s uniquely coherent narrative of Western European painting beyond the canon established in the 19th Century; and to build on the Gallery’s strengths. The strategic document also highlighted the directions in which the canon might be further developed.

The Director made the following general points concerning acquisitions:-

  • He emphasised the importance of AIL as a method of acquisition by the Gallery, and also alluded to the new rules, yet to come into force, which  would give tax relief on lifetime gifts of pre-eminent works of art to the nation. He reminded the Board that the annual limit on tax foregone under both these schemes would be £30m and would be shared between the two schemes.
  • He said that there should be no automatic assumption that if a painting on long term loan to the Gallery were put up for sale, the Gallery would necessarily wish to acquire it.
  • The Director highlighted the pressures on hanging space which the Gallery already faced, and said that making more space for the 19th Century collection had to be a high priority in any future space planning exercise.

Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000.

The Board approved the Acquisition Strategy and the Acquisitions and Disposal Policy.

Proposed Acquisition

7. Prior to the formal part of the meeting, the Board were shown L’Italienne ou La Femme à la Manche Jaune by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. The Curator of Paintings post 1800 said that this painting was one of the most important and imposing of the monumental single-figure paintings which Corot had executed late in his career, and that the Gallery had nothing comparable in the Collection from the final years of the artist’s life. He outlined the very interesting provenance of the painting.

The Director said that the painting had been offered to the nation under the Acceptance in lieu scheme from the estate of the late Lucien Freud, with the request that it should be allocated to the National Gallery.

The Board expressed their appreciation of the offer of the painting to the Gallery and were delighted to approve the acceptance of the painting as an addition to the Collection.

Towards developing a Communication strategy for the National Gallery 

8. The Head of Communications reminded the Board that they had asked that, as an interim step before they considered the Gallery’s fully developed communications strategy which was due to come to them in June 2013, they should have an opportunity to approve the objectives which the strategy would be designed to support. She outlined the steps which had been gone through, to arrive at the articulation of these objectives, confirming that this was being done in conjunction with the National Gallery Company, and summarised the proposed objectives, for endorsement by the Board, as being:-

  • The raising of the Gallery’s  profile and building brand image through strong external communication of what the Gallery represents 
  • The sustaining of current levels of physical visits at between 5-6m per annum; the deepening of engagement with and enjoyment of the Gallery by its audiences; and the driving of growth in the number of digital visits
  • The gaining of a better understanding of the Gallery’s audiences and their needs
  • The driving of growth in income generation through visits, commercial initiatives and fundraising and
  • The improvement of internal communications.

The Board endorsed these objectives, as those which the Communications strategy should be designed to support. 

Exhibition report, 'Metamorphosis'

9. The Exhibitions Curator presented the exhibition report which was noted by the Board. She highlighted the unique contribution which the exhibition and the associated ballets had made to the cultural Olympiad. She drew attention to the gains to the Gallery in terms of raising of profile, and broadening of audience reach, particularly to a younger audience. She also alluded to the great success of the poetry book which had been published to accompany the exhibition. Because this was a free summer exhibition, the Gallery’s financial objective had been to break even before taking account of fixed costs, and this objective had been achieved. Further, in certain circumstances the Gallery would also in future recover some of its production costs. 

She said that one of the results of the success of this cross-arts project was that the Gallery was now looking at the possibility of further collaborative arts projects of a similar sort. The Board welcomed this.

Quarterly management report to 30 September

10. The Interim Head of Finance presented the quarterly management report to 30 September and it was noted by the Board. A question was raised in relation to the Gallery’s energy costs in the year; it was noted that rising energy costs would present an increasing burden on the Gallery, which consumed large amounts of electricity, and that there was only a limited ability to contain these through plant replacement and upgrading.

Committees of the Board

11. The Board noted the minutes of the Audit and Finance committees of 27 September.

The Chair of the Development committee updated the Board on corporate income received from sponsorship and membership arrangements in the year to date.

Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000. 

12. Information has been excluded under s 42 FOI 2000.  

Any other business 

13. There being no other business, the Chairman declared the meeting closed.

Confidential and sensitive information has been excluded from these published minutes in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

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